Quotes (14)

"The most essential gift of a good writer is a built-in shockproof shit detector,"

"Plot is a Verb,"

"If the summary of your own story turns out to be one you haven't already seen fifty times, so much the better. If not, don't worry: all the love stories haven't yet been written, nor anything close,"

"Beginning a character's dialogue by letting him name the other person is the obvious way of telling the reader towhom he is speaking,"

"Rather, very, little, pretty - these are the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words...we should all be very watchful of this rule, for it is rather an important one and we are pretty sure to violate it now and again,"

"A good too many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a SAE big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor,"

"Get that first draft down on paper. If you are stuck in some section just put a page with 'here so-and-so finds out where the key was hidden,' or 'here there's a scene where they fall in love,' or ' I don't know exactly what happens here,' then plunge on. Get it all down. Finish the book.

"I have had a sign on my typewriter for 20 years, that says - 'don't think, do it!',"

"I'm a frustrated actress. I act all these characters. If I don't cry about them, if I don't laugh at their jokes, if I don't lose my temper and if I don't swear, it doesn't seem that I am writing them; someone else is. I act all these characters, I live these characters.
And I never use four-letter words either, just all the 'damns' and 'blasts', and nor will I go into the dockyard atrocities of sex. I imply it and let the reader take it from there,"

Mark Twain's Set of Rules

A tale shall accomplish something.

The episodes of a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help to develop it.

The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.

The personages of the tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit sufficient excuse for being there.

When the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighbourhood of the subject in hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.

When the author describes the character of a personage in his tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description.

When a personage talks like an uneducated loser, he shall not act like an Oxford graduate.

Crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader by either the author or the people in the tale.

The personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.

The author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people and hate the bad ones.

The characters in a tale should be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency.

A tale can be interesting, the characters believable - but the reader won't read enough of it to find out if the language of the story is awkward or unclear. To prevent this, Twain's Rules require that the author shall: SAY what he is proposing to say, not merely come near. USE the right word, not its second cousin. Eschew surplus matters. NOT omit necessary details. AVOID slovenliness of form. USE good grammar. EMPLOY a simple, straightforward style.

Quotes (13)

"I don't have much time for a playwright that can't write a book, because I don't think they can. A play is a piece of cake to write, it you can write dialogue, and you can plot. They get much lauded, everyone from Tennesse Williams to Pinter and Stoppard. I'd like to see them write a novel. They couldn't in my opinion."

"I've never had a short story published. So, in a way, I didn't really achieve my ambition. In that sense I'm still a failure."

"When in doubt, cut."

"Too much polishing weakens rather than improves a work."

"An even battle is more fun to watch."

Quotes (12)

"When I was ten, my dad bought me a second-hand typewriter and I typed out these little tales and stitched them in a folder with a hand-painted title. When I was twelve I submitted one - about a little horse, I think - to something called The Children's Mag and it was actually published. I have never stopped writing since,"

"Write hard and clear about what hurts,"

"All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath,"

"Don't allow yourself to get fussed over how to begin. Don't sit staring at a blank screen,"

"Raising questions and then supplying plaudsible, yet unexpected answers, this is the job of the storyteller,"

"Fiction fatigue - expect it, and don't let it ruin your story,"

"I would never write about someone who is not at the end of his rope,"

"Give the readers a book with people they care about and they will queue up to shake the author's hand,"

"An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke,"

"Always remember your reader, or else you are talking to yourself,"

Quotes (11)

"There will come a day, if you persist, when your pen will move nimbly and you will feel elated, and exclaim to yourself: Now I know that I can write,"

"Jilly Cooper has been described as 'insecure and ludicrously sensitive': characteristics of any successful writer,"

"Writing is a dog's life, but the only one worth living,"

"If you write from the heart, you are writing at the very best of your ability,"

"I can't write a sex scene. In my first book there was one four-letter word, and my mother saw it and told me off about it. I wrote a sex scene and when Doubleday (publishers) saw it they just laughed at me. They said, 'You don't need it. You are a story-teller,'"

Quotes (10)

Half of being smart is knowing what you're dumb at.
David Gerrold

The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Short stories are designed to deliver their impact in as few pages as possible. A tremendous amount is left out, and a good short story writer learns to include only the most essential information.
Orson Scott Card

Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it...
Michael Crichton

Quotes (9)

Short stories are designed to deliver their impact in as few pages as possible. A tremendous amount is left out, and a good short story writer learns to include only the most essential information.
Orson Scott Card

I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.
Truman Capote

It is perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly.
C. J. Cherryh

I refuse to write the same story twice. I keep experimenting. I keep learning how to work. I’ve been at it pretty much 50 years, and I’m now beginning to learn how to do the job well.
Harlan Ellison